The Treatise On Purgatory By St. Catherine Of Genoa. Translated From The Original Italian. With A Preface By The Very Rev. H. E. Manning.
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
The Treatise of St. Catherine of Genoa on Purgatory has never, it seems, been as yet rendered into English. The present translation, therefore, which is both faithful and excellent in language, will be most acceptable to those to whom this wonderful book has hitherto been closed.
Although Our Lord, by His Apostle, has forbidden to women the public ministry of teaching in His Church, He has nevertheless reserved for them a great and resplendent office in the edification of His mystical Body. The lights and inspirations bestowed upon them, according to the words of the prophet Joel, — " In the last days, saith the Lord, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy ; . . . and upon My servants and upon My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit,"— are among the prerogatives bestowed upon the Church by the day of Pentecost ; and their dignity is among the glories of the Mother of God, whose daughters and handmaids they are.
Two of the great festivals of the Catholic Church had their origin in the illumination of humble and unlearned women. The Feast of Corpus Christi was the offspring of the devotion of the Blessed Juliana of Retinne ; the Feast of the Sacred Heart of that of the Blessed Margaret Mary ; to St. Catherine of Sienna Our Lord vouchsafed the honour of calling back again the Sovereign Pontiff from the splendid banishment of Avignon to the throne of the Apostolic See ; to St. Teresa the special gift of illumination, to teach the ways of union with Himself in prayer; to Blessed Angela of Foligno the eighteen degrees of compunction, and His own five poverties; and to St. Catherine of Genoa an insight and perception of the state of purgatory, which seem like the utterances of one immersed in its expiation of love.
Benedict XIV. tells us, in his work on the Beatification and Canonisation of Saints, that the works of St. Catherine of Genoa were examined knd approved by the theologians of Paris : intending, no doubt, the examination by the Sorbonne in 1666, by direction of the Archbishop of Paris ; and again by the Sacred Congregation in the cause of her canonisation.* The sweet and consoling illumination set forth in the following pages, on the mysterious sufferings and bliss of purgatory, was a life of continued pain and of ardent consuming love; of perpetual expiation, and of absolute conformity to the will of God. And of this she says : " This way of purgation which I see in the souls in purgatory, I feel in my own mind, chiefly in the last two years ; day by day I feel and see it more clearly. I see my soul to be standing in the body as in a purgatory conformed and like to the true purgatory. . . . All the things I have hitherto said I see and touch ; but I can find no fit words to express as fully as I desire to say it ; and what I have said I feel to be working spiritually within me, and therefore I have said it."
The Saint was born in Genoa, in 1447, of the family of Fieschi. Her parents married her to Giuliano Adorno, of a noble Genoese house. After his death she served the sick in the Great Hospital, where her body, still perfect and visible, is venerated over the high altar in the choir of the religious which is attached to the wards, and looks down upon the external Church ; and her memory is blessed among the Saints as the Seraph of Genoa.
H. E. MANNING.
All Souls Day, 1858.
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